Today, Monday 24th of October 2016 marks the 384th birthday Anniversary of Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek, credited with being the first microbiologist. He is a Microscopist as well.
While he might not be a household name today, the Dutch textile salesman ground and polished his own lenses, and was the first human to discover the existence of bacteria, single-celled creatures, and spermatozoa. Working from his dwellings above a marketplace in the Dutch city of Delft, his home-made lenses were so finely constructed that some of the organisms he discovered were not seen again for another century.
Doodle designer Gerben Steenks says, “I chose to make it an animated Doodle to show the ‘before and after’ experience that Antoni van Leeuwenhoek had — looking through a microscope and seeing a surprising new world.” See Doodle below:
Van Leeuwenhoek wrote in a letter to the Royal Society of London that he had seen “little animals” in lake water he had collected for his first microscopic experiment. “He saw a whole world in a drop of water,” writes Google.
LET US SEE BRIEF HISTORY OF ANTONI VAN LEEUWENHOEK:
Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek (listen); October 24, 1632 – August 26, 1723) was a Dutch tradesman and scientist. He is commonly known as “the Father of Microbiology”, and considered to be the first microbiologist. He is best known for his work on the improvement of the microscope and for his contributions towards the establishment of microbiology.
Raised in Delft, Netherlands, Van Leeuwenhoek worked as a draper in his youth, and founded his own shop in 1654. He made a name for himself in municipal politics, and eventually developed an interest in lens-making. Using his handcrafted microscopes, he was the first to observe and describe microorganisms, which he originally referred to as animalcules (from Latin animalculum = “tiny animal”). Most of the “animalcules” are now referred to as unicellular organisms, though he observed multicellular organisms in pond water. He was also the first to document microscopic observations of muscle fibers, bacteria, spermatozoa, and blood flow in capillaries. Van Leeuwenhoek did not author any books; his discoveries came to light through correspondence with the Royal Society, which published his letters.
EARLY LIFE OF ANTONIE VAN LEEUWENHOEK:
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was born in Delft, Dutch Republic, on October 24, 1632. On 4 November he was baptized as Thonis. His father, Philips Antonisz van Leeuwenhoek, was a basket maker who died when Antonie was only five years old. His mother, Margaretha (Bel van den Berch), came from a well-to-do brewer’s family, and remarried Jacob Jansz Molijn, a painter. Antonie had four older sisters, Margriet, Geertruyt, Neeltje, and Catharina. When he was around ten years old his step-father died. He attended school in Warmond for a short time before being sent to live in Benthuizen with his uncle, an attorney. At the age of 16 he became a bookkeeper’s apprentice at a linen-draper’s shop in Amsterdam owned by the Scot William Davidson.
Van Leeuwenhoek married Barbara de Mey in July 1654, with whom he would have one surviving daughter, Maria (four other children died in infancy). That same year he returned to Delft, where he would live and study for the rest of his life. He opened a draper’s shop, which he ran throughout the 1650s. His wife died in 1666, and in 1671 Van Leeuwenhoek remarried to Cornelia Swalmius with whom he had no children. His status in Delft had grown throughout the years. In 1660 he received a lucrative job as chamberlain for the Delft sheriffs’ assembly chamber in the City Hall, a position which he would hold for almost 40 years. In 1669 he was appointed as a land surveyor by the Court of Holland; at some time he combined it with another municipal job, being the official “wine-gauger” of Delft and in charge of the city’s wine imports and (wine) taxation.
Van Leeuwenhoek was a contemporary of another famous Delft citizen, the painter Johannes Vermeer, who was baptized just four days earlier. It has been suggested that he is the man portrayed in two of Vermeer’s paintings of the late 1660s, The Astronomer and The Geographer. However, others argue that there appears to be little physical similarity. Because they were both relatively important men in a city with only 24,000 inhabitants, it is likely that they were at least acquaintances, because Van Leeuwenhoek acted as the executor of Vermeer’s will after the painter died in 1675.
DEMISE AND LEGACY OF VAN LEEUWENHOEK:
By the end of his life, Van Leeuwenhoek had written approximately 560 letters to the Royal Society and other scientific institutions concerning his observations and discoveries. Even during the last weeks of his life, Van Leeuwenhoek kept sending letters full of observations to London. The last few contained a precise description of his own illness. He suffered from a rare disease, an uncontrolled movement of the midriff, which is now named Van Leeuwenhoek’s disease. He died at the age of 90, on August 26, 1723 and was buried four days later in the Oude Kerk (Delft).
In 1981 the British microscopist Brian J. Ford found that Van Leeuwenhoek’s original specimens had survived in the collections of the Royal Society of London. They were found to be of high quality, and were all well preserved. Ford carried out observations with a range of single-lens microscopes, adding to our knowledge of Van Leeuwenhoek’s work.
HE’S GONE TO ETERNITY, BUT HIS IMPACTS TO THE SOCIETY ARE STILL EXISTING.
FAREWELL ANTONI VAN LEEUWENHOEK: THE FATHER AND FOUNDER OF MICROBIOLOGY.
ANTONI VAN LEEUWENHOEK IS OUR LEGEND OF THE WEEK; AND WE ARE GOING TO PUBLISH MORE UPDATES ABOUT HIM MOST ESPECIALLY HIS MICROSCOPIC STUDY, RECOGNITION BY THE ROYAL SOCIETY, HIS SCIENTIFIC FAME, AND OTHERS. STAY TUNED AND DO ENDEAVOUR TO SHARE THIS PIECE WITH OTHERS. USE THE SHARE BUTTONS THAT APPEAR ON THIS SITE. PLEASE, KINDLY SCROLL DOWN AND HIT LIKE FOR OUR FACEBOOK PAGE, MUCH LOVE.
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